Put Pressure on Yourself when you Practice and you’ll Make it Easier on the Golf Course

When most of us practice, it usually involves beating a bucket of balls on the driving range or trying to hole chips and putts. If we hit a bad shot or miss, we quickly reach for another ball. But on the golf course it is nothing like this.

On the course EVERY shot counts. There are consequences for missing the target. There is no bottom-less bucket of balls from which we can simply re-load and forget about errant shots. On the golf course, we feel more pressure for this very reason. The best way to practice is with consequences, just like we have on the golf course. We need to simulate that pressure so we can get better and more comfortable with handling it. If we can make practice harder than playing, we will significantly increase our chances of scoring better on the golf course.

Putting Practice Drills

There are several ways to increase pressure on ourselves while we practice and here is one of them…

Colin Montgomerie’s coach at college used to make the team perform the following exercise before they could tee it up on the course. Only when they had successfully completed it could they play. On the putting green, put 10 balls down forming a circle, with each ball about 2ft from the cup. Give yourself a target for consecutive putts holed that will be a challenge to reach. If you miss, you have to start over. Give yourself a reward for succeeding. For Colin Montgomerie’s college team the target was holing 100 consecutive 2 footers. You can imagine the pressure of those final few putts!

The aim of this drill is to try and better simulate playing on the golf course when we practice. It is so easy to get complacent and just reach for another ball when you miss a putt or your target on the range and think nothing of it. You are not practicing the feeling that EVERY shot count or the the increased pressure you will feel on the course.

One of the biggest mysteries in golf – why you can’t take your range game to the course is for exactly this reason. Playing without pressure is easy and it creates a false sense of security and expectations. Expectations mean that errant shots have a more damaging affect mentally and it’s harder to restore calm. If we can make practice harder and have bigger consequences for off-line shots, we will start to gain confidence, increased focus and score better on the golf course.

Photo by TourProGolfClubs

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David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

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